Hydrothermally stable silica-alumina composite membranes were synthesized through chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of tetraethylorthosilicate (TEOS) and aluminium tri-sec-butoxide precursor at 923 K on porous alumina supports. The membranes showed high hydrogen permselectivity (order of 10−7 mol m−2 s−1 Pa−1) comparable to that of pure silica membranes but with superior hydrothermal stability, and were used in a membrane reactor. The permeation of small gas species (H2, He, Ne) was well explained by a solid-state diffusion mechanism, involving jumps of the permeating species between solubility sites. The permeation mechanism of large gas molecules (CH4, CO2, N2) was explained by the gas translation mechanism involving large pore defects. Steam methane reforming (SMR) on a Ni/MgO-SiO2 catalyst was carried out at 923 K in the membrane reactor and in a conventional packed-bed reactor. The membrane contributed to an increase in the hydrogen production rate by the selective extraction of hydrogen from the reaction zone.
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